...Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.'
~ Shakespeare, Hamlet
In which Tosca is depressed and frustrated that today's taniwha in-joke results in her cultural beliefs becoming the butt of a nationally recognised corporate joke. My personal tweetstream was busy today with the hashtag #taniwha that I didn't get at first and, when I did, I was taken aback, and then grumpy, and then depressed. So much so that I posted in a hurry and know I will have grammatical errors (Maori and English) galore. Deal. I am.
Amended note - 11:10pm: I'd like to point out that what I saw on my personal tweetstream was not instances of the people I follow making jokes or throwing off about Maori and the #taniwha topic. It was mentions of the article I saw in my personal tweetstream. Where I hit the skids was in being curious enough to want to look up people's personal comments and opinions online in various blogs and websites.
Ko Raakai Paaka te tangata
Ko Takitimu te waka
Ko Waitirohia te awa
Ko Moumoukai te maunga
Ko Manutai te marae
Ko Ngati Raakai Paaka te hapu
Ko Ngati Kahungunu te iwi
Ko Tosca Mihi-O-Te-Rangi Waerea toku ingoa
Technically, the above is my pepeha, and it names my rangatira, canoe, river, mountain, marae, hapu and iwi. My father's iwi are Ngati Kahungunu (Nuhaka) and Kai Tahu (Kaikoura) and his tupuna were people such as Kahungunu, Rongokako and Tamateapokaiwhenua. I grew up hearing stories about how Kahungunu 'won' Rongomaiwahine (paua and farting - yeah, we're classy like that), and how Rongokako was either a giant or capable of taking giant strides (like, seriously giant strides), and how Tamateapokaiwhenua climbed a mountain and played a nose flute to his beloved (longest place name in the world: Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahorongukapokaiwhenuakitanatahu? Yeah, that's my tupuna). My mother's iwi are Ngai Takoto (Waimanoni) and Ngati Porou (Wharekahika) and her tupuna were people such as Ikanui, Ngaruhe and Tuwhakatere. In non-Maori terms this probably doesn't mean much. But to Maori, to me, this is at the heart of everything that I am. That includes ghosts. And that includes taniwha. This is my world view, this is my norm, and yet I almost feel like I should apologise for it. Especially in light of the taniwha on the tracks articles. Please don't make me link to them here. Go find them yourself. There's no shortage.
I think I must've been the only person who didn't know what the taniwha in-joke was about. A colleague flicked me a link to one of many articles online and I winced as soon as I saw the title. A quick Google-fu session and my worst fears were confirmed. Apparently, this is what the general public thinks 'we' (Maori) want (because, hey, all brownies can just be lumped in together, right, bro?):
I'm fully aware that by objecting to the laughter and comments that somebody is going to say I'm just being politically correct. Well, one man's pc is another man's oppression and, right now, I'm feeling pretty effing oppressed. And insignificant. My mum (who's here for the night) said to me, 'Why do you let yourself get caught up in that?' And the answer is, 'Because it's 2011. I thought we were a little more enlightened. I thought the Maori world view was widely accepted.' And then, 'Do you think the people I work with think this, too?' Sobering.
I really didn't think it was possible for me to feel as culturally low as I did when Don Brash gave his infamous Orewa speech. Sucks to be wrong. Certainly sucks to be me. So, thank you, New Zealand, for making my cultural beliefs, my world view and my identity the butt of a national corporate joke. It was awesome. I can't wait to see what y'all have planned for tomorrow.
Query: Is it racist when you don't know how narrow your view of the world is?